Tuesday, 17 August 2021

Cookery Book: Magnolia Table, Volume 2

It's been just over a year since my last Cookery Calendar Challenge post, but I still love my cookery books as much as ever and use them constantly. One of my favourite things to do is sit down with a coffee, pen and paper, and write a shopping list of ingredients for things I want to cook. I do this as often as time allows. Over the last year I have acquired a few new cookery books, mostly for Christmas or birthday, and last Christmas John gave me Magnolia Table: Volume 2, knowing how much I liked and use the first volume. In fact, it was my last post about a cookery book. 

The second volume follows a similar format: recipes are divided into breakfast, soups and salads, dinner, sides and desserts, and there is a "scratch made" chapter too with recipes for staples like bread, pasta etc. As before, all recipes are in US terms, so it's cups for the ingredients and Fahrenheit for the cooking temperatures, but there is a conversion chart at the back of the book so it's pretty easy to translate into my preference for using scales and grams. Sometimes I am not sure what an ingredient is, but the internet is, as always, a great resource for explaining and finding alternatives. I like that the ingredients (and some cooking terms too) are different, it's more fun. I like that the breakfast chapter is full of meals I would eat at lunch or even dinner time (like quiche), it's interesting. I found the dinner recipes to be quite meat-focused, but many of the sides, lunches and even brunch dishes you could absolutely eat as an evening meal, and we have. 

Most of my experiments from this book have been of the dinner variety as, despite my love of cooking, that is so often the meal I need a bit of a nudge with. Bella chose our first: Orecciette Pancetta, although we had rigatoni in the cupboard so used that. It is simply a variation on the classic pancetta and pea in a creamy sauce with pasta, one of Bella's favourite meals in fact, although the addition of lemon to the sauce was delicious. 


This was an easy, clean bowls all round, family dinner.

Next we tried Chicken Street Tacos: shredded chicken with a sweetcorn salsa, pickled red onions and soft corn tacos. 

It was light and fresh tasting, with the right amount of flavour without being too overpowering. Leftovers made for good lunch the following day. 

By far my favourite element though was the picked red onion, which are finely sliced then left to rest in a brine of water, vinegar, sugar and salt for an hour or two. They lose their eye-watering fieriness and become sweet and crunchy and also turn the most vibrant pink. I have made this a lot this summer to serve with barbecues and other dishes.

We tried Cacio a Pepe, which is spaghetti in a cheese and pepper sauce. I am not really sure why the chicken was added to the recipe - we all agreed that is would have been better shredded and mixed in, or left out - and felt it was ok. The brocolli was me despairing at the lack of green on the plate. 

Our next dish, Seafood Gumbo, was a resounding success and one I have made many times since I first cooked this recipe back whenever it was. Before the clocks went forward I think, as it was still dark in the evening. 

I believe that Gumbo is a southern American stew or soup, thickened with flour and usually using peppers, onions and celery as well as okra, along with meat or seafood. This recipe called for Creole seasoning which I could not find, but the Cajun spice mix I bought in Waitrose looked pretty similar.  I followed the recipe to the letter apart from the okra, which is not easily available here, and substituted the andouille sausage for chorizo, It is a kind of delicious, spicy prawn and chorizo stew with lots of vegetables, and we eat it with rice. A family favourite.

Philly Cheesesteaks were another hit, a proof that my family will happily eat any kind of protein and carb combination, especially when it's topped with cheese and served with curly fries. The leftover steak and peppers were good the next day in a salad, too.

Less successful was Sunday Pot Roast. I wanted to love this, as it seemed like a cosy cross between a roast dinner and a slow cooker stew, and I love meals that cook slowly during the day.

Once you've seared the meat, you add the vegetables and stock and leave it to cook slowly until the vegetables are cooked and meat falls apart. Mine seemed to be a mushy mess, and not especially flavoursome either, leaving me wishing I'd just done either a roast or a stew. 

Having said all that, I would like to try it again, because the words "pot roast" give me all the autumn feels, and I think that, if cracked, it could be an easy and successful dinner.

From the Desserts chapter we tried Crew's Cookies, which are just what I know as Sugar Cookies, with a creamy icing. Very sweet, very nice, but the icing never really set into a hardened glaze which meant they all stuck together in the tin, although that didn't stop anyone eating them.

I made oatmeal cream pies, which are like two oatmeal and raisin cookies (but without the raisin) sandwiched together with buttercream frosting. Apparently they are a popular shop bought biscuit (cookie) in the US and I can see why.

They keep really well. I like the fact that they are a little soft to begin with, rather than crunchy, and loved the cinnamon flavour.

Last Sunday we ate peach cobbler for dessert and John and I both loved it, even though it was a bit overdone. Not blessed with good (or cheap) fresh peaches in the UK, I used half tinned peaches and half fresh nectarines which worked well. You melt butter in the oven, the pour into that the batter of sugar, flour and milk, then dollop the peaches on top. It looks horrendous but, in the oven, all the batter rises around the fruit and it emerges golden with juices bubbling. We ate it with vanilla ice cream.

It's a really good book with versatile recipes, and I could happily cook from it a lot, and I do. This autumn I am looking forward to trying Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bread (which I think is more of a cake, like banana bread) Cinnamon Swirl Bread and French Lentil Soup among other things, and I will crack that pot roast...


  1. Well you've definitely sold that book to me. I love Joanna Gaines on 'Fixer Upper', the DIY show she does with her husband. I love her styling. Thank you for lovely pics, everything looked delicious.

  2. Pot Roast: cook for a couple hours THEN add the vegs. Don't overcook the vegetables.

  3. All of this looks so delicious!

  4. Pot Roast: cook for a couple of hours in slow (low) oven THEN add your potatoes, carrots and onions the last half hour to 45 mins of cooking or cook vegetables until tender. Serve with gravy, biscuits (scones) and a salad. Good Luck.
    Paso Robles, CA USA

  5. It all looks lovely, thanks for sharing. I've wondered about this book myself. I'd have to adapt to ceoliac friendly though which often doesn't translate so well.

    1. It works if you cut things short an don't process the gluten-free dough as normal. It needs no kneeding as there is no gluten to come free. It sticks to all but itself so you need something to make it stick to itself as a "no egg" of Oregan. Kaliumtartaart will make it rise. Don't use rice flower or polenta, but really glutenfree flower. The sugar from gluten won't be there too. Work between two layers of heavily dusted plastic and all will come out the same.

  6. I see several say to add the vegetables later in the pot roast, but I've never had a problem. I do sear my meat ahead of time (10-15 minutes) in the same pot it will cook in, then add my vegetables (carrots, onion, potato, celery) and a bay leaf and salt/pepper. I also add a small amount of water (about 1-1.5 centimeter deep)to the pot, cover and cook it in a medium oven (350 degrees farenheit which I don't remember the conversion) for about 2 hours. Not sure what Joanna suggests, but this pot roast has been family tested for years and is one my husband never has a complaint about. Helen (I love Okra fried, but it is one thing I never learned to cook, lol.)

    1. I wonder if I added too much water. I'll try it with less. Thank you!

  7. Everything looks and sounds yummy, with the exception of prawns in the gumbo (simply because I am not keen on sea food). I have a few recipes floating around the kitchen that I want to try now that the evenings are getting cooler and darker, too; I even bought white wine specifically so that I can make a certain type of risotto. We rarely drink white; our favourite is rosé and in the cooler half of the year, red.

  8. Those recipes all look lovely and I really enjoyed your cookery calendar challenge posts. I think my girls would eat all of those meals although, like Angus, occasionally you see someone poking the odd thing out they don't like! I shall have to see if the library has this one in stock.

  9. I love to see you cook so much and so many yummy things <3

  10. I could happily eat all of those. You are an amazing cook, and your pictures make the food look incredible.

  11. All I can say is yum. I am now very hungry.

    God bless.

  12. Some genuinely superb blog posts on this website , regards for contribution. hibachi grill

  13. That is one of my favourite things to do as well, choosing dinners and ingredients. I did exactly that with Jaimie's 30 minute dinners yesterday evening. I love all the sides in that book and so do my children. I am trying to incorporate our ever growing vegetable harvest at the moment.

  14. Thank you for sharing these lovely recipes. Your pictures make them look very tempting.


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